Days after he assumed office as the President of the United States of America on January 20, Donald Trump had his travel ban ready.
Becca Heller, co-founder and director of International Refugee Assistance Project, which helps provide legal support to displaced people, revealed on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (video above) that on the third day of Trump’s presidency, someone leaked to them the text of the travel ban, the term used to describe his policy restricting access to the United States to people from mainly Muslim-majority countries. Heller was a guest on the show on June 19, the eve of World Refugee Day.
She revealed how International Refugee Assistance Project then battled the travel ban, getting thousands of lawyers to turn up at American international airports to protest the policy and assist those who had reached the country and found that they couldn’t enter.
Passed through an executive order, the ban would go through several iterations and face legal challenges thanks to the efforts of groups like Heller’s. However, a variation of it is still in place in the country.
Moreover, his administration’s tough line on immigration has been expanded with the so-called “zero tolerance” policy, which allows authorities to prosecute adults found entering the country illegally. As part of the policy, parents are separated from their children, who are sent to government custody. More than 2,000 children have been separated from their families, sparking international outrage and compelling Trump to tweak the policy.
The many misconceptions that people hold about refugees are what have allowed Trump to pass such policies – and come to power in the first place, Heller argued.
“I think that there’s two dominant narratives of refugees that are both wildly inaccurate,” she said. “One is that refugees are victims...the other is that refugees are terrorists.”
Heller then described how refugees are in fact highly tenacious and enterprising, which make them an asset to any country. “I think if we’re a country that wants entrepreneurs and patriots, there’s nothing more entrepreneurial than escaping from ISIS-occupied Mosul, getting across the border, going through this crazy refugee resettlement process which takes years, getting your whole family to America, and starting your life over...In fact, a lot of the most patriotic people that I know are refugees.”
To back up her position, Heller quoted that a study conducted by the Trump administration found that in the past 10 years, refugees netted $63-billion to the US economy. The findings were then reportedly rejected by the administration, but made their way to the media last year.